April 9, 2009Cars like the million dollar Porsche Carrera GT and Ferrari Enzo are rightly considered supercars with their lightweight carbon fiber construction and 650 hp (477 kw) thoroughbred mid mounted engines making them capable of 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. The amazing thing is that electric vehicles like the 250 hp (183 kw) Tesla Roadster, which produce 100% instant torque from zero rpm, can accelerate to 60 mph in the exact same time, and at costs as low as $0.02 per mile. Paul Evans takes a look at the leading lights of this new breed of speed demon - the top 5 fastest Electric Vehicles in the world.

The two aforementioned supercars are officially rated at around 12 mpg (19.6L/100km) in city driving, depending on your local fuel price, meaning it could cost as much as $40 in fuel to drive 100km. An EV with similar performance will travel the same distance on just $1.20 worth of electricity ($0.60 in charged over night at off-peak rates). That's not just a slight improvement, that's a huge leap forward.

The difference stems from the fact that only about 15% of the energy from the fuel you put in your tank gets used to move your car down the road or run useful accessories, such as air conditioning. The rest of the energy is lost to engine and driveline inefficiencies and idling.

So the cost benefits are clear, but what about performance, and which cars make the list of the top 5 fastest street legal Electric Vehicles in the world? No cars that are still at the concept stage have been considered, only those that have demonstrated their performance on a real race track get a mention here. The absolute fastest EV s in the world are Killacycle, a purpose built electric drag bike with 500 hp which current holds the record at 7.89 @ 168 mph for the quarter mile and Current Eliminator, a rail type dragster with a best time of 7.956 @ 160 mph. Both vehicles can do 0-60 mph in less than 1 second but because neither are street legal they don't make our top 5.

1. The fastest street legal electric car is a Chevy S-10 called 'Smoke Screen' which was built and is owned by Dennis Berube, who also built the worlds fastest EV dragster 'Current Eliminator'. The S-10 has a best time of 11.083 @ 120 mph and can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. The s-10 runs a series wound DC motor, in this car a 13 in diameter General Electric unit, running on 400 volts and mounted where the gearbox once was.

2. The second fastest street legal EV is a 1972 Datsun 1200 that has been doing the rounds on the internet for quite a while now called White Zombie. The Datsun features two 8 inch Advanced DC series wound motors that put out 250 hp (183 kw) – about the same as the Tesla Roadster - with an impressive 772 ft/lb (1045 Nm) at the back wheels. Looks are deceptive when ot comes to this old two door Datsun - it can do 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds.

3. The Wrightspeed X1 is an Ariel Atom fitted with an electric power train from sourced from AC Propulsion and is capable of 0-60 mph in 3.07 seconds. Where the EV drag cars mentioned above all run DC motors, the Wrightspeed uses the same AC power plant found in the Tesla Roadster. In fact, Tesla originally licensed most of their technology from AC Propulsion so they are very closely related.

4. The AC Propulsion tzero can do 0-60 in 3.6 seconds and is the vehicle credited with being the first in the world to demonstrate the amazing performance possible with off-the-shelf li-ion “laptop” batteries. It would be reasonable to say the tzero (the name comes from a mathematical symbol that means time starts now) started the current move to Li-ion battery electrification of the automobile. The 165kw 3 phase AC motor and inverter in the tzero were originally fitted to a humble Honda Civic by Alan Conconi (an ex-GM engineer who designed the power train for the original EV1) in the 90s. Being front wheel drive, the Civic was unable to demonstrate the full potential of all that instant EV torque so the running gear was fitted into a rear wheel drive kit car called a Piontek Sportech that was originally designed to run a motorcycle engine.

5. The Tesla Roadster claims the title of worlds fastest production electric sports car with a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds. With it's 185 kw 3 phase AC motor and 53 kwh Li-ion battery pack capable of a range of 240 miles (384 km) the Roadster is the production version of the AC propulsion tzero. Where a Ferrari Enzo has a gas guzzling 110 litre (29 gallon) that might cost in the region of USD$58 to fill (at US gas prices) or as much as USD$175 if you're in the EU, the Tesla Roaster has the same blistering performance, just as much turn head appeal and costs less than $5.00 to fill.

Paul Evans

White Zombie

Wrightspeed X1

AC Propulsion tzero

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